A Study of the Rtag ngu’i rtogs brjod
RGYA YE BKRA BHO
This article contains an annotated Japanese translation of the Rtag ngu’i rtogs brjod (“An Avadāna of the Bodhisattva Sadāprarudita”) written by Tsong kha pa blo bzang grags pa (1357–1419). The Rtag ngu’i rtogs brjod is a poetic work based on the story of the Bodhisattva Sadāprarudita, which is found in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā. It is written in campū (spel ma) style, and it involves the effective use of poetic ornaments (rgyan, *alam˙ kāra), such as metaphor (gzugs can, *rūpaka), poetic fancy (rab rtog, *utprekṣā), repetition of syllables (zung ldan, *yamaka), and so forth. Although the exact date of composition is unknown, we may assume that it was written in his twenties when the author was studying poetic theory under the guidance of the Sa skya pa master Nam mkha’ bzang po. This is also confirmed by the fact that the Rtag ngu’i rtogs brjod contains a passage that teaches the non-analytic theory of Madhyamaka philosophy, which is characteristic to the formative period of Tsong kha pa before he composed the Lam rim chen mo in 1402. For, in the story, the Bodhisattva Dharmodgata, Sadāprarudita’s spiritual guide, states that dependent origination of phenomena is to be accepted merely “from the perspective of others” (gzhan ngor), a theory that is denied by Tsong kha pa himself in the Lam rim chen mo. It is to be noted, however, that the aim of this work is not to present a lucid analysis of Madhyamaka philosophy, but to depict a religious experience of the Bodhisattva Sadāprarudita by using various sorts of poetic ornaments. The Rtag ngu’i rtogs brjod is no doubt a masterpiece of the young Tsong kha pa, which embodies his poetic imagination as well as his knowledge pf poetic theory.
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